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Whitmer signs $625M supplemental wiping school debt, funding colleges

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(The Center Square) – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed $625M of supplemental bills clearing some school debt, funding colleges and universities and her secondary education department.

Whitmer signed House Bill 4292 and Senate Bill 174 to fund capital outlay projects from the Fiscal Year 2024 state budget, which was a record $82 billion.

“Across Michigan, we are lowering costs for families, fixing the damn roads, and ensuring every student can get a quality education,” Whitmer said in a statement. “These supplemental bills will alleviate school debt in districts that were hardest hit by financial issues, fund projects in universities throughout our state, and fix the damn roads and bridges in communities across Michigan.”

The bills lower costs for families in Inkster, Benton Harbor, Muskegon Heights, Pontiac and Ypsilanti by wiping $114M of school debt and driving up local property taxes.

“We are grateful to Gov. Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature for the passing of this bill,” Superintendent of Pontiac School District Kelley Williams said in a statement. “Our district has worked tirelessly to eliminate our debt. Receiving these funds allows us to now free up money in our General Fund to provide important resources for our students and staff. Consequently, we are proud to be able to say that Pontiac School District is now debt free.”

Rep. Felicia Brabec, D-Pittsfield, said the change will relieve “years of financial strain” on districts.

“Bottomline, this legislation promotes better educational opportunities for students and relieves years of financial strain that has limited many Michigan school districts,” Brabec, D-Pittsfield, said in a statement. “We must continue to safeguard Michigan’s future by ensuring our schools, teachers and students are receiving the investments that uplift them.”

The bills fund projects at Michigan community colleges and public universities, including the Blue Dot Technology Lab at Grand Valley State University, centers for entrepreneurship and innovation at Northern Michigan University and University of Michigan-Flint.

The bills fund the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential, the fifth new government agency since 2020, tasked with improving outcomes for kids from preschool through postsecondary.

The bills give $6.5 million and 36 full-time equivalents for the new Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MLEAP).

“We thank Gov. Whitmer and the legislature for investing in the innovation and infrastructure that will power Michigan’s future,” President of Grand Valley State University Philomena V. Mantella said in a statement. “Our Blue Dot Lab will transform the way GVSU uses data science, AI and computer technology to forge new opportunities for our students and our state.”

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